Saturday, May 21, 2011


In the midst of a loss that literally reaches inside of you and touches you at your core, a loss that causes a physical pain and throws the body into a grieving process that feels out of control and bottomless, it is easy to become reflective and slightly philosophical.  We actually reflected on Harley's presence in our lives before he ever got sick and before the thought of losing him occupied our every thought. 

Why was he here, why did he chose us? 
Truly I have always felt that he was an angel on a mission. 
Could he have been the incarnate of a past loved one?
My mother, my grandfather, Lou's grandfather? 

There were times you could look into his eyes and appear to be looking right into his soul, a bottomless mirror of clear brown beauty.  Who was behind those eyes, who was this new presence in our lives.  I believe strongly in the purpose of every life on earth, no matter how brief the stay.  I feel deprived of not getting the better years of Harley's life, but I also believe he found me when he needed me, when he would need the most care, when he was aging and becoming less self reliant.  He saw something in me that made him feel safe, loved, and cared for.  It is safe to say he changed lives, that so many who knew him were better for it and I think that is why I am drawn to write about him and grieve for him this way.  He was a purebred Labrador, but I didn't buy him, Lou didn't buy him, there are no registration papers that exist for him in anyone's name that we knew.  We didn't get to pick him out when he was a pup still nursing on his mama, we don't know his lineage or where he came from.  Still,  he was of no less value to us, he was a King among dogs in our eyes.  The paternal canine figure in a house that never fathered a litter, but opened the door in our lives for all the Labradors that would and will follow in the footsteps he laid down for them.  Harley brought us to his breed and made us the ethical breeders were are, because of all the avoidable genetic issues he suffered through, because his breeder didn't do the same.  We learned so much about nutrition especially, and what as responsible owners we should be feeding our dogs and how interconnected diet is to the health of a dog.  We couldn't change Harley's life, we could only take care of him the best we knew how and make strides in our breeding practice to prevent the occurrence of such health conditions in the puppies we produce. 

I had a conversation with my Dad the day after Harley passed and he related the loss of Harley to how he felt when my Mother died.  I told him that Lou gently reminded me I had six other babies that needed me.  Then my Dad proceeded to tell me that if it weren't for my sister and I he wouldn't have had a reason to go on after she died.  He also told me that he believed I found my calling, that these dogs are exactly where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing.  He told me sometimes it takes a while to figure out why you were put on this earth, but that he was sure I am exactly where I am supposed to be and no matter how hard the work is at times, he has never seen me happier than when he sees me with my dogs.  We both cried, it was an emotional Father-Daughter moment. 

Many people have stated how lucky Harley was to find us and as much as that makes me smile, I know we were the lucky ones.  Everyone should be be so moved by a life as we have been by Harley's, he was truly a gift.

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